Saviano has police protection after settlement with Naples mafia (Cammora) – due to book Gomorrah (2006), the movie Gomorrah (2008) and TV series Gomorrah (HBO, 2014–). The hall here on the Berlin's "Talent Campus" is packed after this old theater was emptied for security reasons before we could enter the building.
Saviano (39) is a brave critic of the Italian mafia. He is now behind the book Piranhas (2016) and was a screenwriter for the film Piranhas in the main competition at the Berlin – based on the book. They actually got the Gold Lion in Berlin for the script.
I also meet Letizia Battaglia (84), who has been confronting and revealing the mafia for a number of years. Kim Longinotto's documentary Shooting the Mafia is about this famous photographer (read the interview with Battaglia here).
Mafia movies like The Godfather and Goodfellas are "some shit"
Both Saviano and Battaglia are clear that what we have been served by mafia movies – like Goodfaren (Coppola, 1972 / 74 / 90) and GoodFellas (Scorsese, 1990) – is «some shit». Italian-speaking Saviano calls it aesthetisation. Italian-speaking Battaglia with the red-pink hair almost spits out the English expression "It's shit!" To my question about these films, which according to the two are romanticized, where criminals are portrayed as charismatic figures and become many role models.
Poor youth in Naples today earn around 50 euros a week for honest work. But as Saviano says, they would rather be tempted with 500 or 5000 euros as criminals. Director Claudio Giovannesi selected young amateur actors from Naples to Piranhas. Young "innocents" 15-year-olds – who in the movie says "we would never do a fly hurt!". But then they are caught in a vicious cycle of crime and violence with tragic end. As Saviano tells us, many have almost no choice, as 30 percent drop out of school and the unemployed lose respect or ridicule. The director is trying to show that crime can also be a moral choice in providing for the family, protecting the neighborhood gang, or perhaps the mother's shop – against the mafia and others outside. So far, it is almost tragic outcome.
It is reminiscent of what happened Goodfaren, where Michael Corleone, the basically "innocent" (Al Pacino) from Corleone, still ends up as the notorious mafia boss and blessed by the pope – but in a Greek-tragic way, is left alone after his beloved daughter is murdered?
I Shooting the Mafia says Battaglia how tired she got of photographing "blood, blood and blood again", where she photographed Cosa Nostra's misdeeds in Sicily in the 70's. This was 30 years before Saviano wrote about the Camorra mafia in Naples. At the time, Battaglia became the first female photographer in an Italian daily newspaper – in left-wing L'Ora in Palermo. She could count up to 7 mafia-related murders a day – 1000 a year. Shoot the Mafia shows how Palermo wanted to get rid of the mafia, for example the trial in which almost 400 were convicted in 1986. But in 1992, Cosa Nostra takes revenge on the authorities – the beloved judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino are murdered. But then Palermo's population really got enough, something the crowds in the film clearly show.
Nevertheless. After Battaglia dropped the Pentax camera in 1986 and joined Palermo's city council for a decade – she says that the mafia unfortunately still decides. Similarly, New Age Italian critic Francesca Borri says the same about the mafia in her hometown of Barri (see page 14). The mafia today is almost "a state within the state", they no longer need to kill as before. Berlusconi's Italy has been infiltrated at the top level for the last 20 years. As a young widow cried out Shooting the Mafia during Falcone's funeral: "You never change!"
Beyond today's famous series like My brilliant girlfriend (HBO, Savero Constanzo, based on Elena Ferrantes's novels) and Paolo Sorrentinos The Young Pope / The New Pope several young filmmakers with competition films appeared in Berlin – I mention Normal, Anbessa, Daphne, Flesh Out or selfie (Agostino Ferrente, Mobile Videos of Naples Youth).
Italy has many talents. but, as I said here, some very brave ones: Letizia Battaglia received a lot of death threats, but never experienced an unprotected attack herself. Roberto Saviano is half as old and has lived around the world with a protective guard corps for 12 years. When he last visited Naples, he was followed by two dozen armed guards, driving a bulletproof car.
Still: Saviano tells us in the hall that he has to penetrate to the raw community, because only when we see, can society act differently.
As expected, the mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, calls him an apostate who has lost his Neapolitan body and soul. The mayor tells the Gulløve winner about the city's citizens who are in the dirt and working to improve the city – which supposedly meets the victims affected by the mafia. And the popular comedian Biago Izzo (Radio2) refers to Saviano as he who does not live in Naples and therefore have no right to comment or serve "clichés" about the city.
By contrast, Palermo's mayor, Leoluca Orlando, stands on the side of Saviano and Battaglia – and is fighting the still-alive Mafia. Radically enough, Orlando believes that Palermo should be open, as opposed to Italy's strict immigration policy.
Battaglia has now invited me to Palermo for Easter. See more about Sicily later!